(The Star, 15 July 2018)
Discover your place in a brand new world shaped by Industry 4.0. Here are nine things you will learn at UTP’s annual engineering, science and tech congress next month.
- Feel The Excitement
Futurist David Wood, a pioneer of the smartphone industry and chair of London Futurists, is the star speaker at ESTCON 2018. “He will show you what the future looks like,” says Professor Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib, Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) and Chairman of ESTCON 2018. “Connect to his forward-thinking perspective, get deep insights of how the cyber and physical worlds are merging, and be inspired to start your journey to the future.”
For navigational tools to chart your future, listen to Prof Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia and President of Academy of Sciences Malaysia, who will reveal the landscape of opportunities in Malaysia, and Prof Ir Dr Ahmad Fadzil Mohamad Hani, President and Group CEO of SIRIM, who will talk about how standards are morphing with Industry 4.0.
With 10 conferences running concurrently – 40% international delegates – the technical tracks layer into discussions about people, human behaviour, social sciences and developments here and abroad, making ESTCON 2018 the most comprehensive, up-to-date conversation about a brand new world.
- Innovation Central
New technologies mean new innovations, especially by small companies and entities. “We need to anticipate opportunities, and that is a big thrust at ESTCON 2018,” says Associate Professor Dr Fawnizu Azmadi Hussin of UTP’s Faculty of Engineering and Advisor of ESTCON 2018. “Innovations can be at any level in any industry from transport, food delivery, maid services to ultra-sophisticated products and services in engineering and medicine.” At every step of the way, Industry 4.0 is about innovation, and the best innovations make life faster, cleaner, greener, cheaper and address the future of the planet. Some sectors, like agriculture, are just waiting for radical innovation.
- Getting People Ready
UTP exposes students to entrepreneurship in a systemic way so they get an understanding about funding, venture capital and investment. “ESTCON puts our students into future scenarios,” says Mohamed Ibrahim. “When they graduate, they can translate their passion into enterprise. Our role is to provide awareness and education. If we continue to think in traditional ways, our people will be just consumers, our country will stagnate, and our young people will leave.” Out there, repetitive, manual tasks in an office or plant, for example, will no longer be a human role, which means an SPM qualification won’t be enough for a career. When academics get a feel of the real world, they can shape the curriculum of the future and best delivery methods. UTP’s goal is to enable a graduate to adapt to any industry at any time of his or her life.
The biggest impact of Industry 4.0 will be manifested in manufacturing. Business will go on but expect mighty transformations of established industries as they harness Industry 4.0 into their future. Companies that reject new tech will be overtaken by new players. “Industry 4.0 makes businesses review themselves,” says Mohamed Ibrahim. “At ESTCON 2018, we will talk about the future of companies and their use of technology.” Work styles, facilities, efficiency and jobs are already changing, and manufacturing plants can predict and pre-empt a problem. Unmanned offshore platforms, dangerous jobs, communications and inspections are being automated with an amazing, rippling transformative effect on all segments of society. Humans will focus on jobs that require design, marketing, analysis and judgement.
- Consumer at the Heart
In the end, all of this must benefit people. “If it doesn’t make life better, then it’s of no use to us,” says Mohamed Ibrahim. “We also know that some people are afraid of automation and artificial intelligence. That’s why we encourage all Malaysians to come to ESTCON 2018. Consumers need inside knowledge of policies, guidelines, fair trade and ethics.” At the exhibition, consumers will see health and lifestyle problems being resolved by Industry 4.0.
- Enabling Sustainable Prosperity
A big expectation of Industry 4.0 is a leaner, greener and cleaner economy that continues to enrich people safely, efficiently and happily, freeing humans to be creative and original. “There will be much discussion on sustainability and prosperity at ESTCON 2018,” says Fawnizu. “The Internet has shown us that a single person can have a voice as loud as a giant corporation to sell goods and services. We’ve seen how ride-hailing apps unleashed idle cars into the transport system and created new work. Paperless memo policies literally saved money and trees. Digital technology has enabled flexi hours for women and longer careers for all. Instant review mechanisms have empowered consumers and resulted in more honesty and better quality.”
- Trust and Cyber-Security
This is a huge concern now that all our devices are connected to the Internet and therefore to each other, meaning our lives can be hacked into. “Making our systems secure against malicious intent is tops,” says Fawnizu. “Security is a big topic at ESTCON 2018. When you see a low adoption rate of new smart technologies, you can be sure it’s because of security.” At corporate, manufacturing and revenue levels, can someone hack into a system and steal money or information? Security itself is a field needing more innovation, and as a country we are still short of local expertise. Cybersecurity Malaysia CEO Dato’ Amirudin Abdul Wahab, an ESTCON 2018 forum speaker, will share our current standing.
- The Future of Jobs
Today’s generation is known for its strong desire to be free, which makes freelance work more attractive than a full-time job. “That’s why UTP is pushing the technopreneurship agenda for students,” says Mohamed Ibrahim. “This makes them feel confident about being independent, to set up their own businesses and boldly float their ideas to the right people.” One of ESTCON’s signature events is Innovation Pitching. Students, researchers and faculty pitch their business ideas to potential investors, whose own ideas also shape trends. Delegates will get a deep understanding of the career landscape. “It’s important for UTP to develop students to be versatile because we can’t predict what jobs will be like in the future. The lines between work and leisure have blurred and the rules have changed.”
- A Better World
The ideal future is a world in which you don’t worry about wealth and don’t do manual labour. But first, there needs to be radical change. “The more education a person has, the more humility he should have,” says Fawnizu. “With humility, we can break boundaries between people, arrest greedy behaviour and still have plenty. Industry 4.0 may well open the doors to that. As we rule out the lower paying assembly line type jobs, it might be the change we seek.” For ideas on compassion in work and wealth, ESTCON 2018 features the inspirational Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus at the closing ceremony. Yunus, now 78, who pioneered microfinance in Bangladesh and founded the Grameen Bank in 1983, is today a social entrepreneur – a clear sign that things must change.
About Industry 4.0
INDUSTRY 4.0, a subset of the fourth industrial revolution, is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It describes a future characterised by total digitisation. It is enabled by the combined power of many kinds of technologies and the fact that all devices are connected via the internet. It requires integration at every step in the production process, interaction with machines, and get this… machines interacting with one another on their own.
The nine pillars are autonomous robots, simulation, augmented reality, horizontal and vertical system integration, the industrial Internet of Things, cloud computing, additive manufacturing, cybersecurity and big data and analytics.